Don't Believe The Rumors. Pence's Job Is Safe For Now
Credit: Screen shot
September 6, 2019

Yahoo News has a story about President Trump's relationship with his vice president and, well, now we know where the Nikki Haley rumors are originating:

Current and former Trump and Pence advisers interviewed for this story, as well as my forthcoming biography of Pence, “Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House,” consistently described a personal relationship between Trump and Pence that is warm but somewhat aloof. Pence has a lane that he sticks to in the White House — conservative social policy — but he is not considered to be as influential as people like Jared Kushner or Stephen Miller.

But the relationship between their political teams has soured greatly in the past year, according to a dozen Trump and Pence aides and Republican advisers familiar with the dynamic. In particular, rumors that Kushner and Ivanka Trump wanted to consider replacements for Pence — specifically trying to find a woman running mate to help win back the suburbs in 2020 — have worried the vice president’s camp, according to Trump and Pence campaign advisers who spoke on background for this story.

Naturally, it's Jared and Ivanka pushing Trump to pick a running mate who elicits few liberal tears. They have a point, obviously -- if Trump were sensible, he'd consider a running mate who appeals to swing voters. But Trump wants to own the libs, and he's also terrified of alienating the evangelicals before the 2020 election. So despite the lack of rapport, Trump will keep Pence around -- the president might humiliate Pence, but he won't dump him.

I was about to tell you that Trump might get rid of Pence after November 2020 if he wins reelection -- who needs Goody Two-Shoes at that point? -- but then I remembered that Trump doesn't really believe he'll be forced to leave office after two terms. He'd happily create chaos by running through a series of replacement and/or "acting" vice presidents -- but I think he believes he'll need Pence around when he runs for his third term.

That, at least, is one explanation of the following:

One former adviser to Trump and Pence noted that Trump would more warmly embrace the vice president in public if Pence simply announced that he wasn’t planning a run for president. Trump, the former adviser noted, hates aides who display more ambition than him.

“All of this would go away if he announced he wasn’t running for president in 2024,” the former adviser said.

Why should this matter to Trump? It could just be because can't stand having anyone around who has an ambition equal to his own (and, of course, if Pence is elected in 2024, that will mean he's president and Trump isn't, a thought that, I'm sure, is simply intolerable to Trump). But I also believe Trump doesn't think he'll ever have to leave office. Kim Jong Un is head of state for life. Xi Jinping is head of state for life. Why not Trump?

So Pence's job is safe, for as long as he can endure humiliations like the trip to Doonbeg. But Pence seems to tolerate being abused quite well. So he'll stick around.

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